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All Stars Cricket 2015 : Houston Press Conference : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta

FullSizeRenderFive All Stars addressed the media that gathered in Houston in preparation for the second of three Twenty20 cricket matches on US soil. While the cricket All Stars may have retired, they have all worked diligently on their fitness.

Wasim Akram, the legendary Pakistan bowler, spoke his mind. “Cricket All Stars are here to stay particularly after the response we got from New York. I am playing the game after 11 years. It is like a big family travelling together. I am enjoying every bit of it.”

Akram, who bowled 40813 international deliveries in Tests and ODIs and claimed 916 wickets, added that playing cricket again was fun. While he has been enjoying thoroughly, he observed, “It is a lot more fun to play with each other rather than against each other.”

Both “Rawalpindi Express” Shoaib Akhtar and “Sultan of swing” Akram were very pleased with the response from the crowd in New York. Akhtar was particularly pleased with his personal performance while unleashing bouncers in this friendly yet competitive match.

When asked about drawing analogy between cricket and baseball, star Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardena, who retired recently with a magnificent aggregate of 11814 runs from 149 Tests with 34 centuries, quipped, “Hitting a six in cricket is easier than a home run in baseball”. He noted, “There are lot of similarities between cricket and baseball.” The ever-eloquent and recently-retired Kumar Sangakkara, whose last Test appearance was against India at Colombo in August, was quick to remark about the hitting prowess of players like Chris Gayle or Mahendra Singh Dhoni or David Warner who would have annihilated many a pitcher in baseball given their ball-hitting skills.

A children’s clinic to be supervised by veteran stars has been planned at the Minute Maid Park in Houston to spend quality time and give youngsters tips in cricket. Jayawardena was very supportive of promoting the sport among the youth of USA and even wished that the National US team would one day be more competitive in the short format.

Stylish right-hander from India, VVS Laxman spoke about India’s chances in the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in India 2016. He did share some concerns about the fast bowling unit of India which has been plagued with some injuries in the recent past. Laxman, known for his elegance at the crease and match-winning abilities, was especially praiseworthy of Virat Kohi’s captaincy and his batting.

“T20 is entertainment, Test cricket is quality” were the wise words from Akram. While acknowledging that domestic cricket in his country has been struggling, it is the innate ability of an individual cricketer that would allow him to decide how he performs in his career regardless of the format of cricket.

The drop in pitch is already in place at the Minute Maid Park in Houston and the All Stars seem to be all pumped up for yet another match with their peers. It is going to be a fond trip down memory lane for many in the galleries who would have watched these men perform in their prime. Old is gold and the saying stays true in this case too.